Impasse of logic in Australia selection is baffling from afar

Both Robbie Deans and Quade Cooper hail from New Zealand, and it is these two Kiwis who have hogged the Australian press lines recently.

Deans, head coach of Australia, has picked his 31 man squad from which to select his Test side for the upcoming games versus the Lions. He has made it perfectly clear that he is his own man, but this will seemingly come at a cost. As expected, he has left out fly-half Quade Cooper.

Cooper is arguably the most exciting talent in a number 10 jersey anywhere in the world. With both the vision and ability to throw passes 30 yards off either hand, Cooper is able to see and do things other players can’t. Some of his play against the Lions on Saturday for the Queensland Reds was superb, taking advantage of a hastily assembled back line to expose flaws that previous opponents could not.

He works hard, he is tough (the man has boxed professionally) and although unpredictable, is able to manage games with authority when given the right platform. He also maintains a very Australian tradition of being on the attack at all times.

He is Danny Cipriani with a punch.

Deans has been the head coach for the Wallabies for 5 years, following great success with the Crusaders franchise in New Zealand. He has always built teams that play to their strengths and their opposition’s weaknesses. Or did until recently.

Cooper made a comment last year that he felt the way the Australian team was being run was ‘toxic’. Deans says he has left him out because of differences in how he wants the game to be played. Is this true or is it pig-headedness?

Deans made another big call in re-selecting Kurtley Beale and it is at this point that some of his thought processes are exposed.

Beale is a special player, no doubt. Not many full-backs in world rugby have his all round package. He is quick, strong, reads the game exceptionally well, is great under the high ball, can kick out of hand and runs outstanding lines, hard in midfield and wide.

He also has a very short fuse, and a publicly acknowledged drink problem. On a recent trip home on the team bus he was a few tinnies in and attacked two team-mates, including his captain. He is a brilliant talent, but only 3 weeks ago came back to playing any sort of rugby following a break because of alcohol related issues. He should be rested, not rushed back.

There is an impasse of logic in what Robbie Deans has done. Selecting Kurtley Beale says a number of things to rugby fans and players in Australia:

• players can behave badly and get selected
• drink problems are something that can be swept under the carpet
• the team, and Deans’ job, is more important than the health (physical and mental) of a man who needs help

Leaving out Cooper would seem to indicate that:

• creative, unpredictable talents are not welcome under the current regime
• Australia are going to try and take on the Lions at their own game
• there is no way back for players who speak their mind – much better to punch your captain than offer a comment

These distractions could be the greatest bluff in the history of Lions’ tours, as they serve to create a false sense of security for the tourists. Or are they are the last, foolish happenings of what will be seen as an all black period at the end of Deans’ reign?

By Chris Francis (@mckrisp)

7 thoughts on “Impasse of logic in Australia selection is baffling from afar

  1. Did you watch the 2011 World Cup?

    Or how about one of many you tube clips of Cooper goof ups?

    Maybe the pass to nobody on Saturday night?

    Or the two tries scored by the Rebels the week before, both charge downs from Cooper kicks?

    What about his hesitation to take the ball into contact?

    Or that he doesn’t defend in the front line?

    Put the storyline to bed and worry about defending against ‘adventure’ from Folau, Ione, Ashley-Cooper and O’Connor. Leave the irrelevant chat to Woodward,.

    As for Beale, Christ only knows. But it doesn’t seem quite right.

    1. Some bloke called Michael Lynagh (used to play a bit of rugby apparently) thinks he is a must, so it’s far from just Woodward banging on about it.

      I can understand the case for not selecting him, but what I can’t understand is dragging it out publicly for months. If he was never going to make it then why not just come out and say he’s out right from the start? The whole saga seems to be as much about the power struggle between Deans and McKenzie as anything else.

      I hope Beale is OK, going from rehab into the pressure cooker of Lions series sounds crazy, but maybe the thought/risk of missing it could be far more damaging to him long term. Fingers crossed it proves a good decision.

    2. Cooper wasn’t as bad in RWC2011 as is made out.

      Yes, he did have some glaring mistakes – in particular 4 significant errors in one important game – but should that result in the end of his international playing career?

      Very bad decision by Deans.

  2. I agree with Cramps. Whilst some of Cooper’s play in the Reds’ game was sublime, for every one good thing he does come three mistakes.

    Quade Cooper: The Carlos Spencer of this generation (I’d like copyright on that please!).

  3. Cooper has played pretty well this year, and probably merited inclusion.

    However, his omission is not as big a deal as people make out. James O’Connor plays 10 every week, and is very very good and will be excellent in attack (see him v Wales from 2011 in Cardiff as evidence).

    Beale, Barnes and even Lealiifano are all very good 10s

  4. Whilst I’m not suggested that the Aussies will be lost without him, as O’Connor is class, Cooper is definitely their best 10.

    Yes he makes mistakes – people often point to the world cup. But people forget that a month earlier he was instrumental in winning them the last ever Tri-Nations; where no-one complained about his maverick ways as ball was going to hand.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Cooper has been by far the best Aussie 10 in Super Rugby this year, and particular his partnership with Genia is excellent.

    It can only be good news for the Lions in my opinion.

  5. To my mind he’s a Campese type player. Capable of winning a test match but also capable of losing one. Bearing in mind that it’s the Lions, maybe Deans didn’t want to risk it, based on how it worked out for Campese!

Comments are closed.